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[TV Review] ‘The Flash’ Episode 2.03 – “Family of Rogues”

Captain Cold finally returned (beyond his premiere cameo) on this week’s episode of “The Flash” and I couldn’t be happier.  Barry Allen is often as his best when set against Leonard Snart and Wentworth Miller has never been better than when chewing scenery as the cold gun-wielding rogue.  Well, unless we’re counting Miller’s scripting and producing duties on Park Chan-wook’s Stoker, but that’s another subject altogether.

Why is Cold back?  Simple: his evil father, Lewis Snart (Michael Ironside), is in town and causing havoc not only in terms of heists, but also family drama.  Things take a bit of a darker turn this week as the series tackles issues of domestic abuse on two fronts.  The main one being the fact that Lewis used to abuse Leonard and Lisa “Golden Glider” Snart (Peyton List) when they were children, with Leonard practically raising Lisa after they broke free of Lewis’ hold.

Lewis wants to make some dough and he’ll do whatever he needs to succeed, including blackmailing Leonard into helping him by placing a thermite charge in Lisa’s head.  He isn’t bluffing either, as we clearly see when he executes another member of his crew in a similar fashion.  Bye bye noggin’!  As a bonus, Ironside causing a head explosion makes for a nice quiet reference to his Scanners days with David Cronenberg.  The best references are ones that aren’t a wink at the audience, but instead integrated naturally into the plot.

The begrudging respect between Team Flash and the Snarts is tested when Barry’s help is needed to save both Leonard and Lisa from Papa Snart’s wrath.  This was a rather low key episode, but a no less great one.  The quiet moments between Barry & Leonard and Lisa & Cisco all work well and go a long way towards developing their already-complicated relationships.  The former in particular stands out, not only because it is slowly setting up Captain Cold’s face turn in the upcoming “Legends of Tomorrow” series, but also because it allows Miller to show a different side of Snart.

Captain Cold might be a calculating adversary, but he does have a code of honor and his sense of right & wrong continues to be further defined with each further appearance.  The conflict within him is evident, never moreso than here.  As much as I love the over-the-top performances Miller has given in the role thus far, it was nice to see the less player, more serious side of Leonard Snart.  It’s a testament to Miller’s abilities that he can play both sides equally well and it only further excites me for his co-leading turn in among the “Legends” ensemble early next year.

Snarts

List also rose to the challenge, sharing some emotionally intimate and tender moments with Cisco Ramon.  Normally I’d roll my eyes at the prospect of a romance between a hero and a villain, but it’s kinda of hard to not root for such a relationship when the actors involved have such great chemistry with one another.  At first it was just a playful connection, but now I legitimately wouldn’t mind seeing their blooming relationship turn into something more real.

Ironside, of course, was Ironside and I mean that in a good way.  Snarling and menacing, he’s almost always a fun addition to any role.  I am a bit bummed that he didn’t share screentime with Peyton List, if only because it would have been a random “Smallville” reunion (they played father and daughter there too), but we can’t always get what we want.  Perhaps some flashbacks at some point will compensate?

Moving on, Francine West (Vanessa A. Williams, glimpsed at the end of last week’s episode, steps further into the light this week.  With her comes the knowledge that she was a drug addict and a neglectful mother when Iris was small, furthering the domestic abuse theme.  Unlike “Arrow“, which likely would have kept Francine being alive as a secret for the whole season, this show thankfully lays its cards on the table almost immediately.  Not only does Joe reveal this secret to Barry, but he does so to Iris as well.  On top of that, she takes it the best way she can and is both shocked AND understanding.  As much as I like “Arrow“, it’s impossible to deny that “The Flash” is far better at dealing with dramatic subplots.  As a result, it will be very interesting to see where this particular arc goes.

I would be amiss for leaving without discussing the arrival that takes place at the end of the episode.  Through the breach portal from Earth-2 in STAR Labs basement, Harrison Wells has returned.  A friend of mine said the theme from The Terminator played in their head when it was occurring and I completely agree.  It was an iconic return, as I hoped Wells’ proper re-entrance would be, and I’m excited to see what comes of it.  Is this Earth-2 Wells?  Is it Earth-1 Wells?  Future Wells?  Reverse-Flash?  When both time travel and alternate universes are involved, the possibilities are endless.

Other highlights…

  • Detective Patty Spivot cracking a terrible joke, Barry laughing at it, and Joe just walking away with a simple “Oh, hell no.”  Such a tiny, but great character moment for all three of them.
  • Jay Garrick science bro-ing down with Team Flash.  Speed cannon!
  • Caitlin awkwardly (but successfully) begging Jay to stay awhile longer once the speed cannon is ready to (potentially) send him back to Earth-2.
  • Dr. Stein isn’t doing too hot (or perhaps too hot is the real issue), which is something we look to be tackling next week.  Poor Ronnie is about to be replaced!
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